Etiquette & Languages

Etiquette and Languages observes how people relate to each other through behaviors and speech. Find information on topics like tipping, sign language, good manners and slang.

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'Scatter Days' Get Uncle Joe's Ashes Out of the Closet

Several crematoriums around the U.S. are holding days when people may scatter ashes of loved ones on the grounds of the funeral home – or otherwise dispose of them – for free.

What's the Difference Between Misogyny and Sexism?

The two terms are often used interchangeably, though they have distinct meanings. We'll explain how they're different.

Don't Come Up Short: The Ultimate Abbreviations Quiz

Abbreviations are supposed to make things easier, but when people misuse or misunderstand them they often do just the opposite. How well do you know these commonly flubbed abbreviations?

'Gender-friendly' Tips For a Nonbinary World

Our daily language is often geared for a world that recognizes people as either male or female. But with our growing recognition that not everyone falls into these categories, how can we speak more gender-inclusively?

Do You Have to Pull Over for a Funeral Procession?

Few rules on funeral procession are enshrined in law; most are just customs. But that doesn't mean you should break them.

The Memorable Mnemonics Quiz

Mnemonic devices are little tricks — like acronyms and phrases — that help us memorize important info. Our quiz will test your knowledge of everything from geography to music scales. And every single answer has a fun mnemonic attached.

Do You Have to Open Gifts In Front of Guests?

Over the holidays, lots of gift-giving will be going on. But some people get anxious about opening a gift in front of the giver in case they don't like it and can't fake enough enthusiasm.

Why 'Poop' and 'Wiggle' Are Funny Words, According to Science

That old comedian's advice that the "k" sound is always good for a laugh has been proven true, too.

A Shrewdness of Apes? Collective Nouns Are a 500-Year-Old Language Fad

Groups of animals sure have some funny names. You can thank the Book of St. Albans for that.

Why Do We Scratch Our Heads When We're Thinking?

How did this natural tic become the signal for so many social expressions?

How the Alphabet May Have Destroyed Goddesses

Goddesses once reigned supreme across many cultures. So what happened, and did written language hasten their fall?

'What in Sam Hill'? 5 Ways Your Grandma Used to Swear

What in the world did Grandma mean when she used words like "tarnation"?

The People of Martha's Vineyard Once Shared a Sign Language

And everyone used it, not just the local deaf community.

Mansplain, Dumpster Fire: The Dictionary Just Got (850 Words) Bigger

Merriam-Webster added 850 new words to its popular online dictionary. Learn which words the dictionary added for 2018.

Why Rudeness Is So Contagious

Rudeness is not just a personal annoyance. It can actually affect health and safety. Why is that? And why do we replay a rude interaction over and over in our heads?

Nearly Every English Word Is Trademarked

How could we run out of trademarked words? It sounds impossible, but it's growing more and more likely.

Cake, Candles and Check: Who Pays the Birthday Dinner Bill?

It doesn't get more awkward than the check arriving and no one knows who's paying for what. Is it rude to expect birthday guests to pay for their own meal?

6 Punctuation Marks That Don't Exist But Totally Should

Which of these would you like to see on your computer keyboard?

Why Do We Have Middle Names?

Middle names aren't a purely modern invention, so why do we still have them?

Why Spellcheck Is So Good and Grammar Check Is So Bad

You were probably used to red squiggles showing up for spelling errors and green ones for grammatical errors in Microsoft Word documents. But why was the red usually right and the green usually wrong?

No Offense: 5 Passive-aggressive Sayings We Can Do Without

You know them. They're the people who act like they're not mad, but really are. They're passive aggressive and say some of these five zingers.

Boston, New York, Texas: The Origins of These and Other Great American Accents

What does Boston have against the letter R? Why do Minnesotans sometimes drag out the 'O' sound?

Dotard, Slumgullion, and Other Gloriously Archaic Insults

Kim Jong Un called Donald Trump a dotard. Here are some equally entertaining, out-of-date options the 45th president could've thrown back in his face.

Illustrator Unearths a Forgotten 19th-century Albanian Alphabet

The alphabet's been lost for hundreds of years, but a designer is bringing it back to light with a new digital font dubbed "Albanian Helvetica."


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